There aren’t that many shopping paradises in the EU, everything is pretty pricey and laden with taxes.
Everywhere in the EU except for a remote German archipelago in the North Sea: Heligoland, Germany’s only deep sea island. Despite being German territory, the island is classified as being abroad and as such not subject to EU tax law. On Heligoland, there’s no VAT or customs duty.
Heligoland’s VAT and duty free alcohol and tobacco, in contrast to 19 percent in the rest of Germany, attracts 250,000 day trippers in a year, all of them braving the rough four hour trip. Selling booze and cigarettes to mainland visitors is the island’s economic heart, 75% of its economy depends on it.
To be fair, from photos, it doesn’t look like cheap liquor is all the island has to offer: It’s rather pretty. The island looks like something from Gulliver’s Travels. Rimmed by red sandstone cliffs, it juts defiantly out of the notoriously stormy and windy North Sea. Its history and cultural geography is also unique. Its 1,127 residents are ethnic Frisians and the island used to be a British possession.
So let’s all go to Heligoland. Go for the cheap booze, stay for the cliffs.